September 11th: US National Security Agency had it on a plate

10th September 2001: “Tomorrow is zero hour” was one of the messages written in Arabic, received by the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA). Nothing was done, despite the fact that this was not the only such message received by the NSA on that date.

The National Security Agency, based in Washington DC, received two messages in Arabic on 10th September, which were only translated and analysed on September 12th. The second was: “The match begins tomorrow”, reflecting the customary references by Osama Bin Laden to his fight against the USA being like a game of football and his terrorists being his team.

If September 11th had been the first attack by Osama Bin Laden against US interests, the NSA could be excused for not having been able to know what it was receiving. However, it should be stated that the attack on the Twin Towers was yet another of a long line of terrorist attacks against the USA by Bin Laden and his hitherto-unknown network.

If the NSA did not act on the messages it intercepted, it could be argued that it is inefficient. The US administration has already stated that vital intelligence should have been shared between the various intelligence agencies. A pity it was not, because nearly 3,000 innocent civilians died.

The National Security Advisor to the President of the United States of America is Condoleeza Rice.


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